Two summers ago, our family headed to Mancos, CO for a family reunion. On the way we stopped at The Arches - one of my favourite places in the U.S. It was hot, dry desert, so naturally we decided to take our three young boys on a hike around the area. There is no visible path around the back of those arches. And surprisingly, once you get down the slope a bit, you cannot see the arches at all, and you could easily get further out into the desert wasteland than you meant to - without water, in the arid heat, it could be dangerous. So how do you find your way and not end up as lizard feed?
You follow the signs. Barely noticeable cairns mark the way - if you know to look for them. Someone piled up stones to show the way, to remind themselves of where they've been, and as a sign for those that come after.
I just finished a study of Joshua. The book starts with the people of Israel finally ready, after 40 years wandering in the desert wasteland, to enter their "promised land." Entrance is through the Jordan river. God does a miraculous thing in stopping the waters from flowing so that all the people can cross over a dry river bed. But before they cross, something interesting happens. They stop. 12 leaders (one from each tribe) go to the river bed and grab a stone. I can picture them struggling under the weight of those heavy river rocks.
One by one, they carry them across, lay them down, piling them up. Memorial stones - "that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD." (Joshua 4:6-7)
The memorial stones were a little bit like the cairns in the desert: this is the way we came, this is the way to go. A memorial for those who would come after to remember how Israel came that way, and to remind them of the way to go. The Lord makes the path, he makes the way.
I did a little writing assignment, building cairns in my mind and my heart, in my remembrance and in my journal. How many desert times has Jesus lead me through? How many rivers has he brought me through? How many times have I felt I was wandering with no path and he put the signs there for me to follow?
What about you?
-If you follow Jesus, what has he done that you need to remember? Build a memorial to remind yourself - I was here, he brought me through, and he will again.
-If you are not a follower Jesus, has there ever been a time of desperation where you resorted to prayer? What happened? Remember it - maybe there is a sign pointing to the Jesus of the Bible.